The more, the merrier

The Tribune

Elections are about giving voters a choice — something that has been severely lacking during recent election cycles in Jackson County.

The Nov. 8 ballot this past year featured Republican candidates — and no Democrats or independents — for the countywide seats up for election, including assessor, clerk, recorder, sheriff, four county council districts and one county commissioner district.

In the primary a year ago, the only contested race on the ballot was the one for the GOP nomination for sheriff.

That meant the Republican candidates for those offices — some incumbents and some political newcomers — didn’t even have to get out and meet the voters for either the primary in May or the general election in November.

Sure, there were some races for state and federal offices up on the 2022 ballot, but local races often tend to excite voters just a little more. That’s because the candidates are people we might run into while dining, shopping, attending a concert or just walking down the street, people we can talk to without spending time or using a lot of effort trying to track them down.

At noon Friday, the filing period for this year’s Seymour primary ended.

And guess what? There are going to be just two races on the ballot come May 2, and both are on the Republican side of the ledger.

The first pits incumbent Mayor Matt Nicholson against political newcomer Dan Robison, director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. The second features Marcus Sewell challenging incumbent District 3 Councilman Chad Hubbard in a contest Hubbard was glad to see.

“The more, the merrier,” he said.

We agree. There needs to be competitive races for every office up for election each year.

Without disparaging any present local officeholders — because we know they went into politics with nothing but good intentions — where are all of the candidates?

We know everyone is not always satisfied with the status quo because it’s never hard to find someone complaining about the work of their local politicians. Being a public servant or “hired hand” as they are known in some places is never easy, but what is?

Competitive races tend to bring out more voters, which may explain at least in part recent low voter turnout in the county.

In the general election on Nov. 8 of this past year, 40% or 11,414 of 28,466 registered voted, up from 16% or 4,671 of the 28,314 registered voters who cast ballots in the May primary a year ago.

In the municipal election in the fall of 2019, 4,149 or 30% of the 13,626 registered voters cast ballot. That ballot also featured municipal races in Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora. In the Seymour primary in the spring of that year, 2,185 or 21% of the 10,359 registered voters cast ballots.

While not set, the GOP field for the Nov. 8 general election will be filled once the primary is wrapped up. It was good to see there are a couple of Democrats on the ballot for the primary, and the party will have the chance set up other races for the general election as ballot vacancies can be filled through noon July 3.

And of course, there’s always a chance a Libertarian or independent might find their way onto the ballot. The residents of Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora also have until noon Aug. 1 to file a declaration of candidacy with the clerk’s office at the Jackson County Judicial Center in Brownstown.

It would be nice to start seeing more competitive elections in the Nov. 7 general election.